During 2019, over 53,000 people will receive home support services, to a total of 18.2m hours, an increase of 800,000 hours on the 2018 outturn but this is not adequate to meet the needs of people. It is now harder for over 65 year olds to access home care than it was in 2008. There are waiting lists over three months and recent figures show over 6,000 people assessed as in need of home care waiting for an initial service. Less hours per week are being spread more thinly per client with an increase in the provision of 30 minute slots of care. The current funding of home support services by the Government is inadequate and does not reflect the unmet need because people who are waiting for their first assessment are not counted. Without access to home care supports some older people are not realising their rights to housing and adequate healthcare. As a result some people are remaining in acute hospital settings or have no choice but to move to residential care settings, undermining their human right to live with dignity and independence. Age Action believes that home care supports are invaluable to help older people maintain their independence and delay or avoid long hospital stays. It is unacceptable that older people in vulnerable situations, and in particular those with low incomes, are left without needed supports due to HSE budget restrictions. Currently people who cannot access the rationed resources have to pay, if they can afford it, for private care; this is not an acceptable situation. A statutory homecare scheme, which would provide a legislative basis for equitable access to home supports across the country, is not planned until 2021. Age Action believes that a universal home care scheme is a public good and is the collective social responsibility of Government. Age Action believes that we should have a choice to age in place which means the creation of age friendly environments, including the provision of support services locally, which enable people to remain in their own homes and in communities for longer. The absence of adequate home supports means that many people are unable to age in place. Despite the fact that it is stated Government policy (e.g. National Positive Ageing Stragetgy, Rebuilding Ireland), Government planning is inadequate at providing services to keep older people in their communities, out of nursing homes, and living with dignity and independence.ENDS
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Home care needs immediate injection of ring-fenced funding of €110 million.
Age Action welcomes relaxation of some cocooning measures but criticises lack of consultation with older people.
(1 May) Age Action called for the Government to consult with older people as it plans for the longer-term impacts of Covid-19. To date, public health and Government advice has treated the over 70 age cohort as one. As a single age cohort people over the age of 70 have been subject to public health measures but not enabled to participate in the decision-making process that would ensure that their lived experience and their self-identified needs informs the outcome.
Maureen Cullinane is 72 but instead of taking it easy, the Cork woman is learning the Irish language, making radio documentaries, hating housework and channelling her inner Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg to train her peers as part of Age Action’s Getting Started computer training. She writes about her experiences for the Age Action blog.